Soccer can involve a lot of sun exposure. Teaching sun-safe behavior, especially to children, is an important step in the fight against skin cancer. It's easy to remember the Sun Safe Soccer steps!

Sun Safe Soccer logo






How it works

Before the Game

  • Safety first – Sunscreen, then shinguards.

Sunscreen is the best on-field defense against the harmful effects of the sun’s rays. In fact, studies have shown that sunscreen use reduces the risk of melanoma-related death by 50 percent. In order to be effective, sunscreen must be applied 15 minutes before vigorous activity. That's why sunscreen goes on first, then shinguards!

After the Game

  • Cool down – Follow the normal post-game routine.
  • Cool off – Seek shade and avoid sun exposure when possible. Put tents over bench areas and take half-time breaks and post-game talks in the shade when you possible.
  • Cover up – Sun-protective clothing – such as long sleeves and hats – protects the skin from the sun and keeps the body cool.

Sun Safe Soccer: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Sun Safe Soccer?

Sun Safe Soccer is a national skin cancer prevention program that asks coaches to help create a culture of sun protection in soccer – one of the most-played sports by children ages 4 to 19 in the United States.  While soccer contributes to healthy lives, we also know:

  • Sun exposure early in life is the leading cause of skin cancer in adulthood.
  • Skin cancers are largely caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
  • Most sun damage is done before 18 years of age.

ASDS members can help ensure young soccer players have a healthier future by:

  • Teaching soccer coaches the basics of sun protection.
  • Motivating these coaches – called Champions – to pass that knowledge on to their players and their parents.


John O'Brien photo

Photo: ASDS member Ian Maher, MD, with soccer star John O'Brien

When I first moved from Southern California to Holland to enter the renowned Ajax youth soccer system, my father soberly stated, "Even if it doesn’t lead anywhere, at least your skin will be out of the Southern California sun!" See, my family, of Irish decent, is ghostly pale skinned. I was the kid who after taking his shirt off, would be told to take his shirt off, a classic locker room joke.

My family was well aware of the dangers of sun exposure after my uncle died of Melanoma, however awareness didn’t always lead to action. For me, after three Mohs operations for skin cancer I have sobered to reality. The sun is our greatest friend, but also a potential enemy. It is like soccer.

The world’s glorious game allows us to deeply know ourselves and others, but also quickly can cut with scalpel-like indifference in the form of aggression and violence.

Let the sun be our friend again. Let competition be our friend.

It is simple:

Before the game, Safety First, Sunscreen then Shinguards.

After the game, cool down and cool off in the shade. Then cover up with sun protective clothing!

Thank you & good luck!!!"

–John O’Brien